The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, as directed by Utah Code (65A-8-101), is “responsible for fire management and the conservation of forest, watershed, and other lands – Reciprocal agreements for fire protection.” Over the last decade, FFSL has entered into cooperative agreements with county governments to assist with the cost of wildfire suppression if the county paid an “insurance premium” that was based on the average of wildfire suppression cost over a period of 7 years, dropping the high and low years. Although this system seemed to work in some circumstances, wildfires since 2010 have really brought to light the missing link: municipal governments with vast areas of incorporated wildlands were not able to participate in the wildfire suppression cost assistance system.
After three years of collaborative efforts with county, municipal and service provider partners, the comprehensive wildland fire policy passed unanimously in Utah’s 2016 legislative session: Senate Bill 122 – Wildland Fire Policy Updates.
This new fire policy became effective January 1, 2017, and is being implemented through FFSL’s Utah Cooperative Wildfire System.
The new system is based on the simple principle of risk reduction wherein the state will pay the costs of large and extended attack wildland fire (“catastrophic fires”) in exchange for local government providing initial attack and implementing prevention, preparedness and mitigation actions that are proven to reduce the risk and costs of wildland fire in the long run.
An eligible entity that decides to opt into the wildland fire management system will sign a five-year Cooperative Agreement with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL) as well as create an Annual Accounting Statement detailing its yearly participation commitment actions.
- Cooperative Agreement
- Fire Warden Agreement
- Annual Summary Accounting Sheet
- Individual Project Accounting Sheet
Annual Participation Commitment
The annual Utah Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal (UWRAP) risk assessment evaluation and historic fire cost average (within the jurisdictional boundary of the Participating Entity as tracked by FFSL) are combined to provide an annual “participation commitment” for the Participating Entity.
- UWRAP Website
- UWRAP Data Structure
- 2017 County Risk Assessment Maps
- 2017 Municipal Risk Assessment Maps
- 2017 Special Service Fire Districts Risk Assessment Maps
- Participation Commitment Equation
Community Wildfire Preparedness Plan
Every Participating Entity, with the help of local FFSL staff, must create a Community Wildfire Preparedness Plan (CWPP) within two years of opting in to the system and keep their, plan updated into the future. The CWPP will help a participating entity prioritize the risk reduction projects for its jurisdiction and communities.
- The Community Fire Planning page has information on preparing a CWPP.
How should the process go? Reference the Meeting guide.
Participation Commitment Actions
The participation commitment value is not paid to FFSL or the State; instead, it is to be met by wildfire prevention, preparedness, and mitigation work—direct spending or in-kind efforts—accomplished at the local level.
- List of suggested Participation Commitment Actions
- FEMA Equipment list for Participation Commitment
- In-kind Volunteer Rate
A way to collect in-kind information would be to set up a Google Form if you have a Google account. Here is an example of a Google Participating Commitment In-Kind Form. This is an example only. You can make a copy of the form or create your own. The data that is entered into the form is tracked in a Google Spreadsheet.
The participating entity and its associated fire department make the best possible initial attack (IA) to control and contain wildland fires in this early phase. Increasing wildfire preparedness through training, annual firefighting refreshers, and purchase of equipment that will enhance their wildland firefighting IA capabilities.
Delegation of Authority
Once these criteria are met, if a wildfire escapes IA, the participating entity can authorize the Delegation of Fire Management Authority and Transfer of Fiscal Responsibility to the State. When this delegation occurs by the participating entity, the incident will be managed in a unified command environment and the extended attack cost of the fire will be paid through the State Suppression Fund.